Director: Robin Notice | Screenplay: Kevin Meul and Robert Pront | Cast: Jonas Vermeulen (Frank Verstraeten), Charlotte Timmers (Vanessa), Ella Leyers (Nadine), Matteo Simoni (Dennis Black Magic), Geert Van Rampelberg (Dimi), Barbara Sarafian (Marleen), Jennifer Heylen (Nathalie) and others | Time to play: 138 minutes | Year: 2022
2022 was a great year for Belgian cinema. recently it became known The Eight Mountains by Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch has passed the barrier of one hundred thousand cinema visitors and, meanwhile, all of Belgium is waiting for Close by Lukas Dhont is nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. However, the great glutton of Flanders became zillion.
With more than five hundred thousand visitors, Robin Pront’s film was among the twenty most successful Belgian films of all time. This was not entirely unexpected, the Flemish media went out of their way to shove the film (almost to the point of boredom) down their throats.
The reason for this hype is simple. Everything is based on true and notorious facts. The Zillion was a popular nightclub in Antwerp where many partygoers went. It wasn’t just the popular trance music being played that drew attention, the temple of dance was also a venue for all sorts of illegal activities. Ten years after opening, the nightclub closed for good.
The men at the helm were guys who appeared in the tabloids every week. Founder Frank Verstraeten was a shady businessman suspected of attempted murder, fraud, assault and battery, violations of building and environmental laws, public indecency, trafficking in women, and many other things not to be proud of.
The right-hand man to Dennis ‘Black Magic’ Burkas, aka Dennis, wasn’t a blank slate either. In a short time, Limburger became the King of Flanders’ porn, often filming his movies at Zillion. Like his companion, he came into contact with the law for shooting at a television crew and assaulting a fifteen-year-old girl.
In short, two very suitable characters to make a film. Add to that the fact that many Belgians (and certainly the Dutch too) look back nostalgically on the days when they partyed at the Zillion and you have a dream recipe for a hit movie, at least in Flanders.
Robin Pront’s film revolves around real characters, but the truth is often taken for granted. As a result, he becomes zillion classified as fiction, although every Belgian can clearly recognize the real lines of the story. However, criticism grew that Pront portrays these tough guys too heroically. An objection that certainly applies to Dennis’s ‘Black Magic’ character.
The story is told from the perspective of Franky Verstraeten. Pront often does this by means of a voice-over, as a result of which the Flemish press soon saw parallels with Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking style, but for these to be mainly the words of the press guys who were a little too enthusiastic. with this success, but also a bit about the raised horse movie.
Verstraeten got the brain at birth, but not the length. Due to his small stature, he is the target of all kinds of bullying, which leads to frustration. Through smuggled computer chips, “the little one from Meise” collects a small amount of money, which he wants to launder by investing it in Burkas’ popular porn movies.
The king of porn for his part teaches Verstraeten to know the language of going out and soon the businessman has set his sights on Vanessa Goossens, the 1998 Miss Belgium. Due to the threat of a lawsuit, this is a fictitious name, but every Flemish knows exactly what a famous Flemish lady is, and people from the Netherlands just click on Wikipedia.
Unfortunately for Verstraeten, Vanessa’s father wants nothing to do with him. That’s why the businessman decides to set up the biggest nightclub in Belgium, one that would become known for its extravagant parties. That works, but the Belgian government is also watching.
zillion It is first of all a very funny movie that looks good. The film is full of comedic elements, well acted and stylishly directed. zillion It flies by, even though the first hour of this overly long movie is by far the best.
So this Flemish film is fine if you don’t ask yourself too many questions. But behind the entertaining facade, there are still plenty of sour apples to bite into, if you know the true nature of the story. For example, should you make a comic figure of someone who raped an underage girl? This doesn’t detract from Matteo Simoni’s talent, but it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.
If you can put all these criticisms aside, then beware. zillion for great viewing pleasure, especially for movie lovers who have a soft spot for dance halls, techno and all that comes with it.
zillion can be seen in first video.